Have you ever taken your own dexterity for granted? Are you often thankful that you can use a screwdriver, or write using a pencil, or cut your food without cutting yourself (I'll give myself a passing grade on this, but only due to ongoing mandolin issues).
This weekend my husband spent nearly 15 minutes trying to teach a 3 year old girl how to repair a doll house, which she conceptually grasped, but couldn't execute despite her best efforts. Later he asked me the dexterity question, and now I'm asking you.
The reason I ask about dexterity is that over the course of the last year or so, I've realized that I have incredible dexterity. The realizations began when my son started walking and holding a spoon to feed himself. I realized that nearly all "dexterity" skills are actually learned skills. He (Lord willing) will not always make huge freaking mess every time he eats. He will be able to turn on and off his own toys. In fact, he may even play video games or fix vehicles all on his own one day.
For some reason, I had this idea that you were either born with dexterity or not. Which is why I've always relegated myself to the world where anything "artistic" in nature was off limits to clumsy old me. As I watched my son fumble with spoons and cups and non-toys of various sizes and shapes, I learned that if my child can learn dexterity, so can I.
Of course, I should have realized this earlier. For example, I didn't learn to type until high school, and then only due to AIM (remember those days?). These days, I can type both English and Code at a blistering pace (one that my coworkers find dizzying).
You might be wondering why I'm talking about dexterity. Well for me, dexterity has been a huge mental block on my road to DIY. I've never been particularly gifted in dexterity topics, so I felt that anything crafty or requiring building skills was off limits to me. And in fact, relative to my husband, it is a limiting factor, but I have made huge strides, to the point where I feel that with enough YouTube tutorials, I could conquer just about anything. You can see my haircut below as evidence.
However, DIY or insourcing is a hugely important element in developing financial independence. Too many years of paying everyone to do everything will result in over-specialization and ongoing financial inputs. Tons of blogs focus on home improvement or food prep or whatever as a means to save money. Instead of pretending like I'm an expert at anything, I'll just offer my advice on overcoming the hurdles to DIY (as I've become a huge advocate over the last year).
1. Realize your self worth is not tied up in your DIY-ability
Goodness gracious. You can pay for someone to wipe your butt for all I care (in fact, someday you probably will). Your abilities or even your effort in this arena do not define who you are as a person. I hereby give you freedom to never DIY ever in your life.
I had this personal problem where I thought I either needed to be a hippie farmer/prepper or high-flying exec that outsourced everything, and I had a hard time coming to terms with anything in between.
Once I realized that I could fail without damaging my self worth. I made baby steps. I realized that I already had some basic DIY skills (cooking, photography, laundry, etc.), and I went on to develop more. I changed a flat tire on my bike- the first time took 2.5 hours and involved much more foul language than I care to admit. I lubricated the bike chain (super easy!) I could assemble furniture and paint walls and grind down cement floors.
These days I have the confidence to plan my kitchen layout, to install Pergo, and even cut my own hair! Maybe someday I'll fix a car, but probably not.
2. Look for quick wins!
The best kind of DIY is the kind that saves you both time and money. For me, this was learning to cook in college. I had seen my mom cook enough times to know basically you throw stuff in a skillet and a stir fry comes out, so that's where I started. I bought pre-cut vegetables and fully cooked chicken at first. I still saved time (over going off campus to grab a bite, or even over walking the mile to the school cafeteria), and of course I saved money. As my skill grew, I was able to make more complex dishes, and I was able to save even more time and money.
The haircut thing was also a save time/money endeavor. I only want haircuts at 11PM for some reason. I typically wake up in the middle of the night wanting a hair cut right now! Since we are a one car family, errands typically require coordination which means that my personal ROI on doing anything from home is very high.
Other quick wins can happen if you can develop a skill very easily because you have similar existing skills. For example, I can convert problems to math easily, so planning and buying products for our home remodel is easy for me. It takes me 1-2 hours to do something that takes my husband days to do. At first, I let him do it, because I thought he was doing some complicated construction thing. Then I realized that he wasn't, and that I could develop his skills quickly.
3. Better to overdo than over think
So one of the great things about DIY stuff is that if you screw up, you can just try out a new technique next time. Of course failing too big or too often can get to be an expensive habit, but more people suffer from analysis paralysis than suffer from jumping in to the deep end without a life vest.
Planning has a place in every DIY endeavor, but something is going to go wrong, and you will have to stray from your plans.This is why I say, overdo, don't over think. If you've really bitten off more than you can chew, you can pay a professional, but with every DIY project it gets worse before it gets better.
My husband is much more of a planner than I am, but a lot of times, he can only plan to the "point of failure" at which point he will have to solve the problem to keep moving forward. Typically, when he plans DIY projects he commits to an approach and upgrades tools as his current tools fail him. I tend to alter techniques many times over the course of the project without much consideration for switching tools. Ideally, we would compliment very well, but mostly we drive each other crazy, so we work alongside each other rather than "together together."
So there you have it. Three steps to removing mental blocks to DIY. What are your tips?
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.